Professor Sally Brooker

Principal Investigator

Phone: 03 479 7919

Postal Address:

Department of Chemistry
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054

2011 BB on Registry steps 23Nov2011_IMG_8386Sally did her PhD with Dr Vickie McKee at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand (Vickie is now a Professor at Loughborough University), then a postdoc with Professor George Sheldrick (of SHELX fame) at Göttingen University in Germany. She then returned to NZ to take up a lectureship at the University of Otago, the first position she applied for, where she is now a full professor. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of New Zealand and New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. Recent awards include the 2011 Royal Society of Chemistry Australasian Lectureship, the 2009 NZIC Maurice Wilkins Centre Prize for Excellence in Chemical Research and the 2008 Francis Lions Memorial Lectureship at Sydney University. She loves supervising her large, multinational, highly productive and high impact research team (over 160 papers to date, h = 34 Web of Science, PhD 1989), Brookers Bunch.

She and her research group have prepared and characterised some key dinuclear spin crossover systems, including the first dicobalt complex to undergo simultaneous magnetic exchange and spin crossover, and the first structurally characterised dimetallic complex in which one metal ion is high spin whilst the other is low spin. More recently they have reported, in collaboration with Dr Jeff Tallon (RRI), the first triply switchable cobalt complex.

In collaboration with Professor Annie Powell (Karlsruhe) and Dr Rodolphe Clerac (Bordeaux), larger clusters of metal ions are also being targeted and magnetically characterised, consistent with another aim, the preparation of soluble single molecule/chain magnets (SMMs/SCMs). They recently reported the first SMMs to be designed and made in NZ.

They are also taking steps towards immobilising switchable complexes on solid supports.



Research Interests

We have prepared and characterised some key dinuclear spin crossover systems, including the first dicobalt complex to undergo simultaneous magnetic exchange and spin crossover, and the first structurally characterised dimetallic complex in which one metal ion is high spin whilst the other is low spin.

We have developed access to a range of key families of related ligands so our current focus is on preparing iron and cobalt complexes of these ligands in order to test and extend our understanding of such complexes and their SCO behaviour.

In collaboration with Professor Annie Powell (Karlsruhe), larger clusters of metal ions are also being targeted, consistent with another of our aims, the preparation of soluble single molecule magnets (SMMs). We have recently reported the first SMMs to be designed and made in NZ. Most recently we have reported the first triply switchable cobalt complex.

Associated Content


Teamwork facilitates a detailed pressure-induced spin crossover study

Our team around Principal Investigator Sally Brooker, Associate Investigator Geoff Jameson and Emeritus Investigator Jeff Tallon took on the challange and investigated a first row transition metal complex upon their spin states under the influence of external stimuli such as pressure and temperature. When the ligand field in octahedral d4-d7 first row transition metal complexes […]


Thermal Memories

Story by Ruth Beran Hysteresis Many materials have memory. If a rubber band is stretched, for example, and then let go, it will be slightly larger than before it was stretched. This is called elastic hysteresis. Similarly, materials like iron can be magnetised, and will remain magnetised indefinitely, until demagnetised by heat or a magnetic […]


The Christmas Wrap

We’ve had another big year. We welcomed two new Deputy Directors Profs David Williams (UoA) and Alison Downard (UoC) (Shaun Hendy stepping down at the end of last year and Simon Brown at mid year). We also welcomed six new Principal Investigators (Natalie Plank (VUW), Cather Simpson (UoA), John Kennedy (GNS), Duncan McGillivray (UoA), Bernd […]


Marsden Success 2013

Four Principal Investigators of The MacDiarmid Institute have been awarded Marsden Fund grants. Congratulations to Principal Investigators Profs Sally Brooker (Otago) Alison Downard (Canterbury) and Jeff Tallon (Callaghan Innovation) and Associate Investigator Dr Franck Natali (Victoria) for their success as the lead scientists on newly awarded Marsden grants. Graphene supercapacitors: transforming energy storage solutions Professor […]

Metallosupramolecular materials (Telfer, Brooker)

One specific focal point is synthesis and characterisation of molecules with interesting magnetic phenomena, such as spin crossover and single-molecule magnet behaviour. In work underway, we are using our expertise in macrocyclic chemistry to investigate a new approach to controlled preparation of single molecule magnets. A second focus of work in this objective is preparation and […]


WRC Mössbauer Spectroscopy System

When the MacDiarmid Institute called for applications for this round of equipment, a new chemistry lecturer had just arrived at Otago University from Europe. Dr Guy Jameson is an expert in Mössbauer spectroscopy, a technique that chemist Professor Sally Brooker had identified as a missing link in her research programme. With the MacDiarmid funding they […]


Sally Brooker Elected FRSNZ

The Royal Society has announced the 13 Fellows elected for 2007. The list includes MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator, Professor Sally Brooker of the University of Otago. Sally is well known for her research in transition metal and macrocycle chemistry. Her election brings the total number of MacDiarmid Institute PI Fellows to 10. Sally Brooker, Professor […]


Nick White: Inspiring alumnus

MacDiarmid Institute alumnus, Dr Nick White was born in the UK, but grew up in New Zealand.  He completed his BSc(Hons) at the University of Otago, and PhD at the University of Oxford.  From 2013–2015, Nick was a Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia.  He was appointed as a lecturer at […]


Matthew Cowan: Silver ions to the rescue!

Story by Margo White We’re often told that obliging industry to significantly reduce energy consumption and energy-related emissions would be bad for business and the economy. There may be some truth in that, but it also seems apparent that if there was the political and economic will, there would be the scientific ways. Consider, for […]


Videos – Meet our scientists

During AMN-7 the Science Media Centre “SAVVY Express” team offered our Investigators and students targeted 15 minute sessions to practice speaking about their research on-camera, with feedback and training from a professional interviewer. The result is a series of seventeen interesting 90 second videos all of which are now available to watch via SMC’s Youtube channel, or you can […]

Alumni: Jon Kitchen – Luminescence sensing

Dr Jon Kitchen is setting up a new lab at the University of Southampton. His research area—supramolecular materials chemistry—can be used to develop devices that test for compounds in a variety of situations, from a simple carbon monoxide test for inclusion in home smoke detectors to detecting chemical warfare agents or monitoring DNA activity. The basis of his research is synthesising […]

Collaborating On A (Very) Small Scale

    Casual conversations over conference tea-cups, chance meetings in stairwells, idle flicking through a journal – these may not sound like the stuff of which scientific endeavours are made, but they can provide a surprisingly significant role in the development of research projects and collaborations that span an organisation, a city, sometimes even the […]

Brooker’s Bunch

  It may be 25 years since Sally Brooker received her BSc(Hons) First Class from Canterbury University, but she hasn’t lost her connection to students. The MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator and Professor of Chemistry at Otago University maintains a strong research group of Honours students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, fondly referred to as “Brooker’s […]


  AMN-4 Advanced Materials and Nantechnology conference was held in February 2009 at The University of Otago in Dunedin. Professor Sally Brooker and Professor Keith Gordon headed the organising team. 331 delegates attended, of whom 181 were from New Zealand and 150 were interna­tional. The registration was very pleasing considering that travel to the southern […]

An Eye for Colour

  What´s your favourite colour? Blue? What kind of blue? Navy blue? Sky blue? Cyan? Dr Sally Brooker can answer that question without thinking – for her, it´s royal blue. It´s not just a matter of personal taste, as much of the chemistry professor´s current research is informed by careful discrimination of colour. So much […]